Monday, March 16, 2009
The Best Tool For Your Garden: The Spade
My best friend in the garden happens to be my spade (well, sometimes it can be my feline friend Cyd or Cliff). Now granted I have quite a few hand tools and other assorted goodies, but no matter where I go or what job I am about to do, I always have my trusted spade with me. It is a $70 spade, appropriately called The King of Spades. It weighs at least 5 pounds and is solid, one piece construction all the way through. I use it to dig as well as chop, slice and dice. If you are just beginning in the gardening addiction, a spade is one of the first tools you purchase as well as a shovel, trowel, rake, spading fork, and hoe.
There are a couple of things to look for when purchasing tools, and, just like your father told you a thousand times, you get what you pay for. Don’t be lured into the $10 tools, because they will surely break just when you need them the most. Now I’m not suggesting that you spend $70 on one tool like I did, but try to stay in the middle of the road with price. On the tool itself, look for quality construction. A spot weld will not hold as long as a welded strip. Handles that stop at the point where the collar begins will not be as strong as if the handle went through to the bottom of the tool. Also check the flexibility of the tool, such as a spade. The thinner the blade, the more effort you will have to exert to cut a root or dig around a rock.
Now as far as maintenance goes, simply brush off any soil that may accumulate after using, and before you store it for the winter, use a wire brush to remove any leftover soil and possible surface rust, then give it a light coating of oil to help protect it in the winter months. Also if the tools have wooden handles, give them a coating of linseed oil to help preserve and protect (your hands) for many years to come. When spring start knocking on your door, wipe off any excess oil that still may be on the blade of the spade, then look at the flat end of the spade for any divets or dents. If so, grab a metal file and sharpen to a 45 degree angle. This will be good for slicing and dicing. Too much of a sharp angle and it will lose its sharpness very quickly.
Keep these few tips in mind when purchasing and maintaining your tools, and they should last a lifetime.